With all the hustle and bustle, shopping, planning and excitement in the run up to Christmas it’s easy to forget that we are also approaching the most wasteful time of the year when waste and recycling companies work overtime to try and process all the waste we dispose of over the Christmas period.

Whilst a completely waste-free Christmas is nigh on impossible (especially when children are involved!), being more mindful and making more eco-conscious decisions during the shopping, planning and gifting period is the best way to reduce the amount of waste you produce saving unnecessary waste ending up in landfill. Here are just a few tips for having a less wasteful Christmas.

Rent a Christmas Tree

If you love having a real Christmas tree but can’t bear the waste of a tree being cut down and disposed of after a few weeks, then renting a real Christmas tree in a pot not only saves you money but also the tree! The Cotswold Fir Christmas Tree Shop does just that.

Make homemade treats instead of shop bought

Ok, so I know it’s much more convenient to buy mince pies, stollen and Christmas biscuits but we all know that homemade is by far the tastiest! Focus on a few recipes and buy your ingredients from bulk dry goods shops which avoid packaging and you are on your way to a waste-free treat-full Christmas! By the way, did you know you can pre-make all your mince pies and freeze them?

Avoid Christmas cards

With the risk of sounding like scrooge, avoid sending and receiving Christmas cards this year and think of alternative ways to spread your Christmas love! Perhaps a family video uploaded onto a social media channel or emailed to loved ones would do the trick? Or even schedule in a phone call or skype call to loved ones, and explain that you would rather wish them a happy Christmas personally.

Avoiding receiving cards is tricky, so those that you do receive just keep for next year and make Christmas decorations from them or reuse them by making new cards to give to loved ones.

Buy from small independent retailers

Shopping from independent retailers not only supports small local businesses, but these retailers are more likely to make more eco-conscious packaging choices or at least understand that you want to make conscious purchases at this time of year. If you don’t have a local high street that offers small local gift shops, then search online for independent ethical businesses and don’t forget to check that they send their orders in compostable and recyclable packaging!

Wrap presents in fabric

Have you seen the beautiful art of Furoshiki? A Japanese wrapping cloth is used in place of paper wrapping paper, and is wrapped and tied beautifully around the gift. The cloth can then be used again and again, whilst also saving wasteful paper wrapping from being used once and discarded. Any fabric can be used, especially if you have spare fabric already. Otherwise a nice tea towel can be used, or it’s worth checking your nearest fabric shop as they often sell fabric off-cuts quite cheaply.

Give an Experience gift

Buying thoughtful gifts is lovely, but what do you do for that person that already has everything they want? Or someone you are a bit stuck on what to get? Giving the gift of an experience is a lovely way to give a gift, whilst staying waste-free. Some ideas include tickets for the theatre, swimming lessons, hand gliding or ice-skating. For everyone out there, there is always an experience you could get them!

Make your own natural decorations

This is a great one for the kids, and will keep them busy in the run up to the big day. Foraging for holly, branches, berries and ivy is great fun on a sunny day and then you can make lovely decorations for the house, a homemade wreath or the table. At the end of the festive break, it can all be composted!

Avoid Food Waste

Food waste is a hot topic at the moment, so let’s not get too carried away at Christmas with mountains of food that doesn’t get consumed or ends up going mouldy at the back of an over-filled fridge. Firstly, do we really need to do a huge shop to make sure we don’t run out of food over the Christmas period? Shops mostly only close on Christmas day these days, so trust me, you won’t go hungry!

Make space in your freezer pre-Christmas so that you have plenty of room for freezing leftovers that can be frozen.

Look for interesting new recipes you haven’t tried before to use up leftovers and make a new meal from, and if there really is too much food leftover invite the neighbours over for some post-Christmas scoffing!

December 12, 2016 by Jyoti Shaw